Friday, April 14, 2017
We're Back! A Dinosaur Story (1993)
Plot: The film opens with a trio of bluebirds teasing their younger brother, Buster who decides to run away to the circus until he meets an intelligent T-Rex named Rex. Rex tells Buster how he knew a boy who also wanted to join the circus and tells Buster the tale of when he and three other dinosaurs, a parasaurolophus named Dweeb, a triceratops named Woog and a pteranodon named Elsa, were captured from their native timeline and given the ability to speak by Captain Neweyes. Neweyes gives them a mission to travel to present time New York to go to the Museum of Natural History and to beware his brother, Professor Screweyes. Along the way, they meet a boy named Louie who wants to join the circus and a girl named Cecilia who is neglected by her parents.
When I was little, I used to visit a friend of my mother's and her children and a few times she would show us this movie. I only remembered certain parts of it, but being a kid that would like anything animated I liked it nonetheless. Then I started to want to see it again somewhat like with Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, and so I borrowed the movie from the library and took a look at it, and as it turns out...it's a bit of a mess.
Let's start off with what is more or less good about it. The animation is good to look at on occasion. Most of it is basic cartoon animation, but every now and again you'll see something that is pleasing to look at. While Rex is not the most interesting character in the world of animation, he has some likable moments- partly because John Goodman does his voice. Honestly, the only two things I really remembered is Rex and the parade scene where he sings Road Back to Back which is a catchy tune. Even though I'm an adult I liked that scene enough to replay it a few times before finishing the movie.
So what is wrong with this film? Well to put it simply, it's clunky and poorly paced. Very often the film tends to lose focus on what it's trying to do to the point that you probably forget that the dinosaurs' goal is finding the museum. Most of the time, the film wants to focus on putting the characters in comic high jinx and rushing through exposition/character development. So much of the latter feels so thrown in, rarely feels like it's given the right amount of time to be itself. Even when Captain Neweyes is telling the dinosaurs their goal and what they're up against straight out, it feels kind of rushed. The last scene with Professor Screweyes had the most interesting atmosphere in the movie, but they don't explain or really build up what exactly happens to him or why. The romance with Elsa and Rex and Cecilia's feelings with Louie have no real purpose and are brought up in random parts of the story. All of the dinosaurs apart from Rex are pretty forgettable. When I said Rex and the parade where the only things I really remembered about this movie as a kid, I meant it. I had virtually no memory about the other dinosaurs as a kid and I barely remember much about them now even after having just recently watched this movie again. Even though there's a whole chase scene focused solely on Woog, Dweeb and Elsa, they didn't do a thing for me at all. Heck, I had to look up their names online just for the sake of saying them in this review they're so forgettable.
The funny thing about the poor pacing in this film is that it feels similar to the pacing in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, and it turns out that is because this movie is made by the studio with the same directors. So considering how I give that film high praise despite having a similar flaw, how does An American Tail: Fievel Goes West succeed where We're Back! A Dinosaurs Story does not? I admit that I'm biased since I grew up loving Fievel Goes West, but apart from its fun music, world, and cartoon action, that film still knew to focus a lot on its characters. Even though the film feels like it's going a little too fast paced, there still is a lot of time devoted to establishing who all the characters are and what their goals are. Fievel wants to find/save his family, Tanya wants to be a famous singer, Tiger wants to win back Miss Kitty's heart and Cat R. Waul wants to make burgers out of the mice. All of these are interesting goals that come together for an exciting film. But because there's so much focus on just Rex (and to some extent Louie) that I barely remember anything about all the other characters or their goals. the most notable thing about the other three dinosaurs is that Elsa has a crush on Rex, which like I said is barely mentioned and that Woog loves to eat hot dogs and that's pretty much it. In fact, the ending has virtually nothing to do with the events of the climax. Everyone gets what they want in the end or get some sort of a satisfying ending in Buster's case, but none of it connects to the adventure they have.
And that's my review for We're Back! A Dinosaur Story. All I truly remembered as a kid was Rex and the song Road Back To Back, and honestly that's mostly all I think is relatively good now that I'm an adult. The pacing is too fast, the supporting characters are forgettable, and the story has little focus. It was nice to see again just like with Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and Cats Don't Dance, but like the latter, I'm not in a hurry to see it again.